Archive | November, 2015

Float #131: Mississippi River

20 Nov

Kimmswick to Truman Access

F131_Mississippi

Mississippi River
Jefferson County, Missouri
Saturday, November 14
18 Miles

This past weekend was quite warm with highs in the upper 60s. DW and I wanted to go floating, since it would be our only chance to get on the water in November. However it was also opening weekend of firearms deer season, so we didn’t want to go anywhere too close to hunting areas. That eliminated most waterways close to our house. So we decided to knock out another section of the Mississippi. We didn’t have anyone going with us, so we drove two vehicles and ran our own shuttle. After dropping one car at Truman Access, we drove up to Kimmswick to put on the river. There is a small public parking area right next to a creek that runs through town and spills into the Mississippi. Normally, this is where you put in to access the river, but the creek was very low so we drove closer to the river and walked our boats down the bank to the water.

Mississippi River

Putting on at Kimmswick

Mississippi River

Mississippi River

Choppy waters

There was a fair number of barges going upriver that day, as well as a variable wind that kicked up some small waves. I enjoy the Mississippi when it is more calm and flat water, but DW likes it choppy. There are quite a few houses on this section of the river, many more than I am used to seeing and most of them quite large. We paddled for about five miles and then took a break on a sandbar to eat some food.

Mississippi River

Mississippi River

Remnants of an old wooden rick rack

Mississippi River

Mississippi River

The next few miles were pretty uneventful. There aren’t many sandbars that looked worth exploring and no gravelbars (where the more interesting stuff usually is). Eventually some hills and bluffs appeared on the Missouri side with some interesting rock formations. There is a large quarry right on the river near Crystal City. It is loud and spews a lot of dust, so you can’t miss it. We also got to see a train roll through. We waved and the conductor blew his horn. Trains are one of the things I’ve never grown out of from childhood (another is poop jokes)!

Mississippi River

A train passes by

Mississippi River

The quarry

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Nearing our take out at Truman Access

Just after the quarry a tugboat was stacking up barges in preparation for moving them upstream. I think that is the first time I’ve seen a tugboat stacking barges. Not long after the quarry we could see the smokestack of Rush Island powerplant in the distance. As we neared our destination another barge pushed upriver. Of course, it threw up some waves, which made turning into the access a bit tricky. You want to face the waves head-on with the nose of your boat pointing into them. Otherwise you risk getting swamped. The combination of a rick rack, barge waves and making a turn into the boat dock was a little dicey. I had to point downriver into the waves, and then make a quick turn and paddle hard to reach the boat ramp before the next set of waves hit me sideways.

We both pulled in safely around 4 hours after we had put on the river. We made pretty good time, but we only took one short break. I still think the section from Truman Access to Ste. Genevieve is the prettiest we’ve done so far on the Mississippi, but it was good to get another section finished. It’s not likely we’ll find time to float in December, but I will be back before the end of the year to do the “year in review” post!

Critter Count: Ducks

 

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Float #130: Lady Bird Lake

9 Nov

Lady Bird Lake

F130_LadyBirdLake

Lady Bird Lake
Austin, Texas
Wednesday, October 14
6 Miles

Last month we went down to Texas for a caving event and spent a short 24 hours in Austin. While we were there we made sure to get out on the water. We rented a tandem sit-on-top from one of the waterfront outfitters and paddled Lady Bird Lake along through downtown to the lower dam and back. It was a nice paddle on a bright, warm day. We thought about renting SUP’s, but they were pretty pricey and the two of us could rent one tandem for less than the cost of one SUP! DW and I have never been in a tandem kayak before and I doubt we will make a habit of it. We much prefer to paddle separately!

Lady Bird LakeLady Bird LakeLady Bird LakeLady Bird LakeThe waterfront seems like an area that gets a lot of use from Austin residents. There is a nice walking/biking path all along the lake and several pedestrian bridges across. We saw several people fishing along the bank or in kayaks as well as many people using the trails. There were a couple of access points where people let their dogs swim and play. It was fun to watch the pooches having such a good time! There was one area of the lake that was thick with aquatic weeds that spanned the width of the lake, but it was only a few yards long, and not too difficult to paddle through.

Lady Bird Lake

Congress Bridge

Congress Bridge

The boardwalk

The boardwalk

The dam

The dam

We saw great views of downtown Austin from the lake. The south side of the lake has a bunch of (I presume) expensive condos that look across the lake to downtown. Many of these condos had boat storage along the boardwalk and it looks like the perfect living area for the urban kayaker. We paddled under Congress Bridge, which is home to one of the largest urban bat colonies in the US. We didn’t see any bats (as it was midday), but we sure could smell them! As we approached our turnaround point we circumnavigated a small island and then paddled up near the dam and then turned around to head back to the outfitter’s dock.

Lady Bird LakeLady Bird Lake

Bridge art

Bridge art

Our way back was filled with more excellent views of downtown and a surprise piece of artwork under the bridge! We spent about 3 hours on the water and it was a good bit of exercise and an enjoyable morning. Afterward, we went into the city and ate some tacos before heading out to our caving event.

Critter Count: Turtles, Herons, Egrets, Pigeons, Dogs